Feyikemi Kukoyi: Entrepreneurship gives me freedom to be creative
Feyikemi Kukoyi is an international wedding and events planner. FTK has over 10 years experience of wedding and event planning, designing and coordinating under her belt. She is also the chief creative officer for Globally Igniting Africa, an NGO.
Feyikemi’s background in business technology administration and panache for unique designs shows her skill set and creativity to make any event she’s involved in an outstanding success. She is currently pursuing her MBA degree to further her education, while empowering herself with up-to-date knowledge to the advantage of her clients.In this interview with Guardian Woman, she discusses what it takes to be a Nigerian business owner in America.
You quit the corporate America that offered a steady, healthy paycheck to start your own business. What motivated you to take such step?
I had started my own business, while working in corporate America and constantly battled working full time and doing my business full time almost on a daily basis. It wasn’t an easy decision to leave corporate America, where regular income was guaranteed, but after praying and getting the nudge, I took the bull by the horns.
Having tasted both worlds – paid employment and entrepreneurship – which do you prefer? What’s the competitive advantage of your preference?
This is a difficult question to answer. I dare say no one in his/her right mind wouldn’t miss getting paid. I absolutely loved getting paid, as an employee, but without a shadow of doubt, I also love being an entrepreneur. It is a sort of double-edged sword. The competitive advantage for me personally is that being an entrepreneur has afforded me the freedom to be creative and make my business whatever I want it to be.
Are there specific factors, or government policies that have helped your business thrive in the US, but are lacking in Nigeria?
Oh Lord! Yes and yes. The American dream is to be able to say I came from nothing and I’m working my way up to something. I mean in a world filled with millions of people, an immigrant like myself can rise from almost nothing to working my way to a self-starter (self made) global event planning company? I don’t know if Nigeria could have boosted my business in the same manner the equal opportunity lifestyle in the USA has and continued to do for me. The government and environment supports small businesses and make you believe you can be anything you set your mind to be.
What are the challenges that you face, as a Black businesswoman, especially with your Nigerian background in America?
The challenges are limited and can be interpreted on a per person basis. Honestly, I am of the belief system that you are limited by how you think or what you subject your mind to. Are there issues surrounding minorities and blacks in America? Yes! Should that be what I focus on and use as a stumbling block? No! I deal with one challenge at a time and just see myself as a Nigerian-American with endless possibilities by God’s special grace.
Your events planning business, FTK~Konnect, caters to African weddings and other events in the Diaspora. How have you been able to pull off creating African atmosphere at some of these events?
This is easy. Thank goodness for pioneers that have inspired me and shown us all to stand tall and be proud of where we come from. I plan events globally and I must say it’s a blessing to plan African events here in Africa and in Diaspora, because everyone, whether African or not, enjoy the richness of our culture. Most of my friends and I’ve even realised my clients friends want to be a part of that Nigerian wedding or Cameroonian party. Nigerians, and I dare say Africans, make their presence felt anywhere they are. We always take over. Pulling off creating African atmosphere at our events, when dealing with African clients, is truly a walk in the park.
As the chief creative officer of Globally Igniting Africa, are there plans to engage Nigerians in creative ventures, especially those that can impact the economy positively?
Yes, there are and we have been doing our bit in Nigeria since 2013, when we first held our empowerment seminar here in Lagos. We recently completed Fashion Empowers in October 2015, where over 100 participants were opportune to listen and be trained by the movers and shakers of Lagos. We are working our way towards more consistent impactful programmes, such as, fashion empowers, she ignites she inspires an all female empowerment programme, as well as, match young people with their role models, so that they can start to work to display their full potentials.
You are currently in Nigeria for a media tour. What do you aim to achieve with this?
My goal is to be able to spread more awareness about the different ventures my company and myself are into. This media tour is mainly for Weddings, Events & Beyond also known as WEB by FTK.
Your reality show WEB by FTK premiered online earlier in the year. How successful has the show been since its debut?
Season 1 premiered in March 2016 and its success has been unbelievably inspiring to me, the creator of the show. The organic view and widely accepted rave reviews by friends, family and just onlookers have surpassed any goal I may have set for myself. I am truly grateful for the support of the show thus far.
Do you plan to take it to TV?
Yes. I want to be able to see it make TV, so that more people can watch the show. I want to be able to educate on dating and engaged couples in what to expect, their parents to see what the trends of weddings end events are and even getting young people to aspire to want to marry, and plan their weddings according to their budget without feeling the need to conform to the norm. Oh gosh! I would totally love to see it on TV.
You run a business, have an adorable family and you are actively engaged with GIA. How do you pull this off?
Honestly, to say it’s by my power or great thinking will be mere foolishness. It’s all by the grace of God. He has put in me this passion that’s nurturing daily and I have this resilient personality to match this passion, which just gets fueled everyday to be the best me all the time. I say this to anyone, who cares to read this: work in your passion, because everything you do will just come naturally!!! I can’t stress this enough. I enjoy what I do and thankfully my husband, children, mom and siblings support me wholeheartedly.
Who is Feyikemi Kukoyi?
This is a funny question to me. I am just an average girl who’s choosing not to be average in anything I do. I have chosen to be extraordinarily great and I wake up every day working towards my goal to be the BEST in anything I do. Period.
Thanks a lot for taking your time to interview me. I greatly appreciate it. You have now planted some thought provoking questions/answers in my mind. Thanks again.